Molecular cancer research : MCR

mTOR/MYC Axis Regulates O-GlcNAc Transferase Expression and O-GlcNAcylation in Breast Cancer.

PMID 25636967


Cancers exhibit altered metabolism characterized by increased glucose and glutamine uptake. The hexosamine biosynthetic pathway (HBP) uses glucose and glutamine, and directly contributes to O-linked-β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modifications on intracellular proteins. Multiple tumor types contain elevated total O-GlcNAcylation, in part, by increasing O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) levels, the enzyme that catalyzes this modification. Although cancer cells require OGT for oncogenesis, it is not clear how tumor cells regulate OGT expression and O-GlcNAcylation. Here, it is shown that the PI3K-mTOR-MYC signaling pathway is required for elevation of OGT and O-GlcNAcylation in breast cancer cells. Treatment with PI3K and mTOR inhibitors reduced OGT protein expression and decreased levels of overall O-GlcNAcylation. In addition, both AKT and mTOR activation is sufficient to elevate OGT/O-GlcNAcylation. Downstream of mTOR, the oncogenic transcription factor c-MYC is required and sufficient for increased OGT protein expression in an RNA-independent manner and c-MYC regulation of OGT mechanistically requires the expression of c-MYC transcriptional target HSP90A. Finally, mammary tumor epithelial cells derived from MMTV-c-myc transgenic mice contain elevated OGT and O-GlcNAcylation and OGT inhibition in this model induces apoptosis. Thus, OGT and O-GlcNAcylation levels are elevated via activation of an mTOR/MYC cascade. Evidence indicates OGT as a therapeutic target in c-MYC-amplified cancers.